‘Teaching’ them all a lesson

Maria Amir April 13, 2010

SADIQABAD: The Punjab teachers union (PTU) has decided to launch a protest on April 21, 2010 after the Punjab government decided to fire undergraduate teachers.

Teachers unions have demanded that the government reverse its ‘anti-teacher’ policies and requested that the decision of forced retirement of Punjab’s teachers be taken back. Addressing media people in Noorpur Thal, Teachers union members Malik Abid Hussain, AD Malik, Ghamgheen Hussain and Muhammad Aslam Joeya said that the teachers being targeted by the new measures had spent almost 30 years of their lives serving the nation’s youth.

The union members said that it was unfair to suddenly declare them ‘dead wood’ simply because the government was focusing its academic policies on English-medium education. “Our teachers are the builders of the nation and the government is making these policies to please their foreign masters.

Yes, English is important but it is not the only thing that is important in education,” said Malik Abid. He said that education policies should be made to benefit the nation, adding that teachers should be included in the committees responsible for determining the syllabus and study courses.

“If this is not done, no positive change will come from improving the education system,” he added. The union argued that the teachers were not involved in capitulating to foreign concerns and this was why they were targeted. “The government is responsible for the pathetic literacy standards in the country because it never managed to form a solid policy, not the teachers,” they said.

The union insisted that the only way forward was to train the teachers already in the field along new lines rather than alienating the teachers who were actually passionate about their work. They said that the government needed to focus equally on English and Urdu, the country’s national language if it was to move forward and retain its identity.

The union leaders said that their protests would continue till the government reverses its decision. According to details, the government issued a notification to force teachers who had not completed their graduation and those over the age of 50 from service.

A wave of anxiety spread among the teachers after the government’s decision was announced on Saturday, April 10, 2010. The teachers’ union stated that the government’s decision to sack teachers over the age of 50 was ‘completely senseless.’ PTU president Hafiz Ghulam Mohiuddin said, “I always thought we should benefit from the experience and learning of our elders, not fire them and prohibit them from teaching.”

The union insisted that any move to deprive the teachers of their jobs would be foiled, adding that the academic community would fight for its rights under the banner of the PTU. The union has given a notice to the education secretary regarding the strike being started on Apr 21, 2010.

“If the notification is not taken back then the teachers will start protests throughout the province,” he said. A committee has been formed led by central secretary Syed Faiq Hussain, Altaf Hussain, Jam Aziz, Muhammad Ilyas Ch to finalise a strategy for the protests.

The committee will brief the teachers regarding protest rallies.